Why girls don’t do STEM careers: how can we encourage more females to be scientists?
In the world of STEM and science, there are still less women than men. And why is this? Why is it still unusual for girls to like science and maths? While the world is making strides in gender equality and equal rights for men and women, we still don’t have a society in which everyone can pursue whatever career they choose, regardless of their gender.
Girls are often stereotyped not to like STEM. They aren’t encouraged to be engineers, scientists or mathematicians. Due to this lack of encouragement, many young women don’t go on to have a career in STEM areas. Some have been told that they can’t become an engineer or a scientist simply because they’re a girl.
Another large problem that stops women from becoming scientists is having children. Young women often leave STEM fields early in their career because of the difficulties of taking extended time out for maternity leave and balancing work with childcare.
Furthermore, even if women do find a job for themselves, they might be paid less than their male counterparts and possibly even receive less access to resources or lab time and office space. I think that this is really unfair, because women should have the same rights as men.
Women who work in STEM fields face constant bias. This is not just from male colleagues but also from female colleagues, a study has shown. In some areas, women are perceived as mothers, not scientists. This is extremely sexist, because women have the right to choose whether they want to be mothers or not.
It is crucial to get more young girls interested in science because there are growing signs that gender bias has affected research outcomes and even damaged women’s health. It is now widely known that many women with heart disease have been misdiagnosed in emergency rooms and sent home, when they might have had a heart attack. This is because, for decades, we haven’t known that women’s cardiovascular disease symptoms can be different from those experienced by men. Women have also suffered more side effects from some medications, because the recommended dose was based on a clinical trial that largely focused on average sized males.
So, the question is, how can we inspire girls to become scientists? The simple truth is that girls just need more encouragement. Girls are still raised to let other people determine their value, while boys are raised to determine their own value. Girls are made to feel that it’s not feminine to be good at science or maths. If a girl is finding her STEM course hard, her parents are more likely to let her drop it than if her brother is having the same issues. Girls are often lacking in confidence and won’t sign up for STEM courses. Some scientists have this weird belief that if you need encouragement, you aren’t clever or committed enough to be one of them.
The solution to increasing the number of female scientists is to give young women more encouragement. Girls can achieve their dreams, they just need cheering on.
It isn’t all bad news: more women are making it into STEM careers. Well done to all those women who have proved to the rest of the world that you don’t need to be male to be good at science, because you don’t.
I’m a girl. I’m passionate about science and my dream is to go on to have a career in science. Some people might think that my gender will stop me from achieving this. But I don’t. I want to be a scientist and nothing is going to stop me.
Nabilah Thagia, Year 8, Bolton School Girls’ Division